☼ Jaffareadstoo is delighted to welcome you all to our Summer Picnic ☼
☼ I'm delighted to welcome author Gail Aldwin to our Summer picnic ☼
☼What favourite foods are you bringing to our summer picnic?
I love a scotch egg and a bit of quiche. Tomatoes and chunks of cucumber are compulsory. A slice of cake goes down well for afters.
☼What would you like to drink? We have white wine spritzers, locally brewed beer, traditional Pimms, sparkling elderflower cordial, or a thermos of tea or coffee.
Alcohol at lunchtime sends me to sleep so I better stick with a cup of tea, Earl Grey if you have it.
☼Where shall we sit, by the pool, in the garden, in the countryside or somewhere hot?
I do love a stomp through fields to find a picnic spot under the shade of a tree. The weather has to be warm or what’s the point?
☼Do we have a wicker hamper, tablecloth and cutlery, or is everything in a supermarket carrier bag?
I’ll put the grub in my backpack and I’ll make sure we have ceramic mugs for the tea. I’ll carry the collapsible chairs, too.
☼Do you have a favourite place to have a summer picnic?
Anywhere off the beaten track suits me.
☼Which of your literary heroes (alive or dead) are joining us on the picnic today?
As I’ve been reading lots of novels with child narrators, I think I’ll bring one of them along. Children love picnics. I wonder what eleven-year-old Harrison Opoku from Stephen Kelman’s Pigeon English would make of this very British tradition? Being a new arrival from Ghana, I’m sure he’d have something to say about it!
☼Which summer read are you bringing with you today?
If only I could get a copy of The Fair Botanists by Sara Sheridan before its released in August. I spent the spring in Edinburgh and lived just around the corner from the Botanic, so I’m dying to read this novel.
☼What is your earliest summer memory?
Paddling in the sea. My older sister was daring, she launched herself into the water and had to be rescued!
☼Do you have a summer music playlist? And if so will you share with us a favourite song or piece of music that makes you feel happy?
This is a dreadful admission, but I rarely listen to music. I prefer the company of spoken voices to song. My favourite summer song relates to a carefree time in my twenties – it’s got to be Loveshack by the B52s.
☼Do you find that your reading tastes differ between winter and summer?
I always have a huge TBR pile, and I try to read books according to the date they are acquired. Some end up jumping the queue but I’ll enjoy a good novel whatever the season.
☼Do you find it easier to write in the summer months or during the winter?
I’m a focused writer so summer or winter makes no difference to my writing schedule. I do like to write about summer in the summer and winter in the winter. I find it challenging to write out of the season I’m experiencing.
☼What can you tell us about your current book or WIP?
My second contemporary novel for adults was released in early July 2021. This Much Huxley Knows uses a seven-year-old narrator to shine a light on adult experiences. It was a joy to write and re-experience the joys, thrills, dangers and surprises of childhood. But now Huxley is out in the world, I’m working on a new novel. This time I’ve turned to crime fiction and I’m writing a dual timeline novel. Following redundancy in 2010, menopausal journalist Stephanie Brett investigates the earlier disappearance of a teenage, west country girl in a cold case podcast. Through the 1978 storyline, Carolyn Forster tells her own story of infatuation and exploitation.
Gail, where can we follow you on social media?
Twitter handle: Twitter: https://twitter.com/gailaldwin
About This Much Huxley Knows
I’m seven years old and I’ve never had a best mate. Trouble is, no one gets my jokes. And Breaks-it isn’t helping. Ha! You get it, don’t you? Brexit means everyone’s falling out and breaking up.
Huxley is growing up in the suburbs of London at a time of community tensions. To make matters worse, a gang of youths is targeting isolated residents. When Leonard, an elderly newcomer chats with Huxley, his parents are suspicious. But Huxley is lonely and thinks Leonard is too. Can they become friends?
Funny and compassionate, this contemporary novel for adults explores issues of belonging, friendship and what it means to trust.
‘Read this and feel young again’ – Joe Siple, author of The Five Wishes of Mr. Murray McBride
‘Moving and ultimately upbeat’ – Christopher Wakling, author of What I Did
‘A joyous novel with the wonderfully exuberant character of Huxley’ – Sara Gethin, author of Not Thomas
About Gail Aldwin
Novelist, poet and scriptwriter, Gail Aldwin’s debut coming-of-age novel The String Games was a finalist in The People’s Book Prize and the DLF Writing Prize 2020. Following a stint as a university lecturer, Gail’s children’s picture book Pandemonium was published. Gail loves to appear at national and international literary and fringe festivals. Prior to Covid-19, she volunteered at Bidibidi in Uganda, the second largest refugee settlement in the world. When she’s not gallivanting around, Gail writes at her home overlooking water meadows in Dorset.
Gail, where can we follow you on social media?
Thank you for sharing your picnic with us today.